We made it safely to Dubois on Friday despite some pretty hairy road conditions on the way. We figured we seen 100+ cars/semis in the ditches on the way……..a real nail biter. They have more snow in Dubois than we’ve seen since we started coming 3 years ago, which is a welcome site! Spent the entire day Saturday doing absolutely NOTHING, but eating, dropping dogs, scooping poop and laying around so we could give the dogs a day at altitude. The entire mid-west crew is all here at the Super 8; Magnussons, Andersons, Labodas and Gilbertsons. We all went out to dinner and took over a local pizza joint and pigged out and talked about how busy our days were 😮 The dogs are all pretty content and enjoying life on the road. Unlike in past years they are pretty calm on the truck and not acting stir crazy yet — not sure if that’s a good sign.
Saturday morning we went to the local trail head to run a 15 miler. It was snowing pretty heavy before we left so Bruce was able to convince me to run the trail from Hell! Snow or no snow I was a tad concerned as memories of our last trip down that miserable trail kept haunting me. Broken ribs, hurt dogs and lost teams was not how I wanted to start the race this year. The trail is a nice climb to the top of the mountain, but not severe. Gives the dogs a real good chance to get their lungs working and give them back their legs after being in the truck so long. The Gilbertsons, Andersons, Perrinos and Phillips were all there training today. We took off; Bruce with 9 and me with 8. Both teams were climbing nicely. My team kept looking back as I kept old plastic on the sled and threw in a few items to weigh me down some so I could hopefully survive the descent. We got to a fork in the trail and I asked Bruce if he knew the way and he said he thought so. We proceeded. Then he stopped as he saw the trail marker and we suddenly doubted ourselves. Of course, we had no map! We debated our options and decided we needed to turn around. Just what I wanted to do with a couple harness banging horses on my team. I unhooked the worst of the crew’s tug lines and swung the leaders around only to have them go 360 degrees around right back to where they started. Meanwhile the team is just going crazy and I’m amazed the hook held. Thankfully, Sam Perrino showed up to confirm we were going the correct way. We proceeded and only managed to go through one tug line and two necklines during the mini-break. The top of the mountain was very low visibility and we were thankful to be able to follow Sam because you could not even see a trail….just WHITE! The descent was manageable due to the snow conditions, but I confirmed that I never want to do it on slick conditions. It is a pretty severe descent with nothing but twists and turns and some serious 90 degree right turns that throw you right in the turn, which has a snow bank 4 feet high. There isn’t a hill in the midwest that can compare — it is truly uncomfortable to a flatlander like myself. We literally rode our brakes and pads the entire way to keep things under control. We made it without issue and that was a relief. Unfortunately, we tore up some feet due to the snow conditions, which are also a bit different than at home and hard to predict. They can be one thing at the bottom of the mountain and something completely different at the top. Toppi was limping a bit during the run and we worried it was a recent wrist injury resurfacting, but when we got back we noticed that his feet were a mess. So we’ve got the week to heal him up and run him a couple more times to make sure he’ll be ok to race – we are keeping our fingers crossed. We’d like that big boy to get Bruce up the mountain.